Friday, 25 September 2015

2 Common Hidden Desires Behind Emotional Food Cravings

Our emotional state is a powerful thing.

It can make or break situations. 

It can propel us forward and try new things or make us want to hide away and avoid the world. 

It can help us manifest what we want or don't want.

It can also affect our relationship with food.

How often have you eaten more when you are stressed? How often have you felt low, down in the dumps or simply bored and can't seem to stop craving and/or eating certain foods?

Whilst yes, the physical body may guide you at times if its lacking certain vitamins or minerals and will do so by craving certain foods. What often happens though, is when we crave foods the actual food is not what we are really looking for. 

You can tell the difference between a physical need and emotional need by the nature of the situation. Trace your thoughts and emotions back and notice how they developed as that food craving arose. 

What was I thinking and feeling before that craving occurred?

How am I feeling now as I crave that food? 

You may notice that just before a food craving arose that you were feeling bored or in a low emotional state for example. And you may notice that you were thinking unhelpful thoughts that were putting yourself down and helping you to feel like a victim. Yes our thoughts can create our emotions! (More on emotions here). 

A question you can ask yourself is...

"Hmm I wonder, what am I really craving?"

In many ways, NLP is above all a valuable mindset and life perspective. It puts us in the driving seat, helping us to become aware of so many choices and possibilities. It infuses curiosity about ourselves, others and life. 

The perfect example is when I was on the beach this summer. There were some unisex toilets, and a queue of people waiting assuming that the 'shut door = its occupied'. Out of nowhere this little boy walked all the way to the front of the queue and opened the door to the toilet and stepped inside. It was empty after all much to the surprise of those in the queue! That's what I mean by the curiosity. Its a questioning, a wondering, and a childlike inquisitive mind discovering what is really going on in the situation (not what we assume is happening), what options are available and using that information to take action. 

Are you looking to feel a comforting emotion to help lift you out of the boredom and low mood? This is a common reason why many people crave certain foods that remind them of comforting times during childhood. They are simply trying to connect to that feeling.

Of course we can enjoy comfort food from time to time, and of course it's wonderful to reconnect with old recipes and dishes we used to love. What is unhelpful though is continuing a regular pattern of using food to feed us the emotions that we wish to feel. Especially if they are junk food items or foods that are unhelpful to our physical health. We will only feel crap about eating it afterwards if we do so on a regular basis and beat ourselves up about it. Not the most helpful action. Thus creating a continuous cycle of emotional food cravings. 

So if you want to curb the cravings, use your inquisitive skills and ask yourself... "Hmm I wonder, what am I really craving?" Because more often than not, there is a hidden goal, a hidden positive intention. And quite often if we're feeling unhappy and unfulfilled, searching for comfort food, there are 1 or more of the 6 Basic Human Needs (especially the two in pink!) that we are searching for unconsciously...

  1. Feeling a sense of Love, Belonging & Connection to others
  2. Feeling Significant and that we are recognised for things
  3. Having a sense of perceived Certainty, feeling safe and secure
  4. Experiencing a sense of Variety
  5. Feeling a sense of Growth as an individual
  6. Feeling that we are Contributing to the lives of others

Once you know what you are really looking for, you can then brainstorm other ways to bring that feeling into your life, therefore helping to reduce the cravings for unhelpful foods. 

For example... if you find you are really looking to feel a sense of perceived certainty, then you can find other ways to help you feel supported, safe and comfortable without using food. For example; creating the most comfortable environment you can at home or by calling a dear friend and asking for help during a time of uncertainty.

Another way to change your emotional state is simply to bring your attention 100% to the present moment, breathe deeply, raise your arms up above your head, tilt your head up and close your eyes as you continue to breathe and focus on your breath. Almost as if you have just won a race and someone captured a photo of you passing through the finish line as you truly felt that moment. This is a called a Power Pose and you'll understand why it's called that as you bring it into your life on a regular basis. (For the science behind the pose click here).

What have you got to lose? ;-) 

Now its your turn. What are you really craving and how you'll fulfill that need without using food? Use the space in the comment section below to state your new actions and kick start you into a healthier relationship with yourself and food.

Have a friend who is struggling with emotional food cravings or simply needs an extra boost of energy? Offer a helping hand and share this post. 

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